Monday, July 31, 2017

Internalized sexism

About two weeks ago I was writing about some self-evaluation coming out of reading Beauty Sick, and it went pretty well. I was left feeling mainly good about myself.

You may remember that even when I had been feeling weak and without many resources, I mentioned being able to help two people by listening to them. Then I started writing about some of the things that had previously made it easy to feel badly about myself, then took some time to talk about racist attitudes and how my own weakness may have affected someone's ability to come out to me. Now that we're all caught up, I want to talk about those two people for whom I provided a listening ear.

As it was, one reason both of them needed to talk to me is that there were others who were not listening. Not by a total coincidence, both were women being talked over and down to by men.

I think it was important for me to write the post about Beyoncé's baby picture not just because I had been thinking about it, but also because of what was covered on how we need to interrogate immediate reactions and instinctive attitudes that we are sure are not racist. We run into the same problems with issues of gender.

"I'm not sexist!"

Maybe you aren't, but historically there has been enough sexism enshrined in law and enforced by tradition that it could have influenced you in ways you will not be conscious of without careful self-examination.

Remember that Sanders supporter who kept getting angrier about my support of Clinton, where it was starting to feel like harassment? Then, when I asked him if he was doing that to any male friends of his who did not support Sanders, that was a vile accusation of misogyny and he ended our Facebook friendship. 

I swear I did not mean to accuse him. I knew he had at least one other contact who had disagreed with him on something, and I was curious if he was pushing everyone in the same way, because it seemed disproportionate. Personally, I suspect his conscience did the accusing, which can feel pretty terrible. It would still not be the first time that a man was not able to accept a woman's rejection of his opinion.

That came up in my second conversation from that day explicitly. A friend was receiving creepy attention from one man, which was its own problem. The reason she called me was because of a different man who just felt so sorry for the creepy one and kept reiterating that.

If he had only said it once, that could be a mild irritant and then done, but he just kept going. She expressed her discomfort with the conversation, and he kept going. He felt so sorry for the guy; after all, she would be such a prize for him.

That is objectification. It is more obvious when he uses the word "prize", but the real tell was his inability to accept her different mind and thoughts. I don't believe he is consciously thinking "I have to keep going until she admits I am right" or "Women don't get to disagree with men"; that would be too crude and obvious. I maintain that the feeling is there underneath. Since it is buried, we need to poke it and prod it and drag it out into the light.

If anyone reading this thinks that's an annoying viewpoint, I can see why you think that. I will further acknowledge that doing the work of rooting out internalized bigotry of any kind is uncomfortable and unpleasant.

That said, it really sucks being perceived as an object.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Band Review: Calling All Astronauts

One of the most tedious parts of reviewing music (for me), is listening to a string of remixes of the same song where none of the variations seem to make that much difference. Calling All Astronauts turned that upside down.

They took the third track off of Anti-Social Network, "Hands Up Who Wants To Die?" and changed the request. Do you want Metal? Goth? Dubstep? There are six different tracks providing those things.

It makes sense for them, as the band prides itself on being able to incorporate various genres, including electro and post-punk. When I am listening I hear primarily indie rock with a guitar-heavy electro influence and an undercurrent of industrial. So if sometimes I hear a riff that reminds me of The Go-Go's, or a vocalization that reminds me of Iggy Pop, that should all be in play. "The American Dream" reminds me of Nine-Inch Nails.

There is a lot to listen to here. I recommend starting with "Empire". That's not just because it's the first track of their most recent album; it's also a pretty good song.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Band Review: Love Past Blue

Love Past Blue is a Dallas-based indie rock band. Their songs sound like they would go over well in a roadhouse, experimenting with funk and blues.

This made it somewhat disconcerting for me to discover that their ages range from 14 to 17. I don't hear it when only listening to them, but when watching performance footage it is distracting, especially as they introduce a song about consent.

I don't want to get overly hung up on age; they sound great. With this much ability now they should only be getting better, and able to speak with more authority as they gain more life experience. I cannot help feeling that they should take some time to grow up.

That should not be a reason not to listen to them. Of the songs available, I particularly liked "Faded". It is a bit softer than the rest of their tracks, but was delivered beautifully.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

I can't hear you; I'm bleeding

I am thinking a lot about homophobia today. Current events may explain that.

It goes well with yesterday's post examining how we think about racism, and with where we are going in how we think about sexism, but I swear I was just trying to get to an understanding of why it was so hard for me to feel good about myself when I was younger. Perhaps a new story will help tie things together.

I have had several queer coworkers at different times. Some I really love, most I get along with, and one was absolutely terrible, which I would say was unrelated, except maybe a lifetime of facing prejudice is what turned her into such a nasty piece of work. Regardless, the one that really bothers me is the one where officially I didn't know.

I didn't know unofficially either. Some other coworkers had guessed, which I found out later. Maybe I should have guessed based on how much he hated my slingbacks (I liked those shoes!), but that's such a stereotype.

If I had been asked, I would have opined that he was far too immature to be in a relationship with anyone of any gender, and I would not be wrong. Nonetheless, I think he tried to come out to me one night, and I botched it.

It was not completely my fault. His opening gambit was trying to get me to understand why he could never be attracted to me. I am not even sure why potential attraction to me was an issue, unless that just seemed like the best way of introducing it.

The problem with that is I wasn't hearing "I don't like girls"; I was hearing "You are gross and disgusting because you are fat."

It is not unreasonable to point out that if you want to have a difficult discussion with someone, and you want their understanding and acceptance - maybe even compassion - that insulting them may not be the best strategy.

It could also be reasonable to assume that his point was not about insulting me. I'm not positive, because he was a brat who really liked getting under the skin of anyone around him. Sometimes it was fun, sometimes it was not a big deal, and sometimes it would have been really easy to throttle him, even knowing you could get fired and jailed for that. So, yes, he might not have been against the insulting part, but he also may not have realized how I was hearing it, because he didn't even like girls.

It registered for me because my deepest belief ever was that boys could never like me, and being aware of it didn't make reminders any less painful. I couldn't believe that he was sticking the knife in like that.

I did feel like there was something significant about the exchange. I could feel him willing me to understand, but I was understanding the wrong thing. That was my weakness.

I have seen before that the insecurities and fears that you carry around can keep you from being there for other people. It's usually only something that can be seen in hindsight. Later, after we didn't work together anymore, I found out, and that's when I started to figure it out. That's when I started to feel like I failed him.

I don't beat myself up for that one a lot. I know he had other support, and we didn't become enemies from it even then. We never had another exchange like that. I do wonder now if he had tried other ways of leading up to it that went over my head, but I don't specifically remember any.

I do try and remember that it's not just okay to like yourself; it's necessary. If you can't feel like you deserve that for yourself, maybe being there for others can give you the motivation to get started. So many of the terrible things you fear about yourself are false anyway, and they can lead to so much harm. It's better to let them go.

This post's title is present tense, but I think I am better now. There may still be things I don't realize. As I balance my current external crisis with my improved internal state, we'll see. The main point I want to make is treat your wounds. Acknowledge they are there and treat them.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017


You may be aware that Beyoncé gave birth recently to a set of twins, and even more recently posted pictures of her holding them.

Many people felt compelled to offer their opinion on this. They also felt compelled to offer their opinion on her pregnancy photos. Complaints included narcissism, making things look to easy (because that's not what "real" pregnant women and new moms look like), and insensitivity to people struggling with fertility issues. What they often overlooked was their own racism.

Here are a few things to think about. Posting her own pictures of the twins relieves some pressure from paparazzi trying to ambush them for the first photos. By publishing to Instagram, she made the pictures available to anyone with internet, for free. An exclusive deal with a magazine would have still cost money for people interested in the pictures, whether the Knowles-Carter family had accepted payment or not.

I did see at least one complaint that the money spent on the photo shoot should have been donated, but they do donate a lot; I'm not going to begrudge them that, especially given the mother's interest in visual artistry.

I had not really been thinking about that previously, but one of the pregnancy photos I had not seen earlier shows some nice parallels with the "after" picture:

Back when I reviewed Solange, I became aware of a real sensitivity to structure and texture and visual imagery, which is also pretty true of her sister. Beyoncé probably gets some enjoyment out of creating the lush images, and why not? After all, for her this is a celebration.

And that's where we really get to the racism part.

First of all, let's remember Demi Moore - nude, pregnant, and never feeling so confident and beautiful - and Jessica Simpson imitating it. Also Nicole, pregnant fiancée of Michael Phelps taking some stunning underwater pregnancy photos. Pregnant photo sessions are pretty standard now, often with a professional photographer. I know someone who kept posing with larger pieces of fruit as the baby grew. If some people get fancier as a reflection of their personal aesthetic, there should not be a problem with that.

Now let's talk about insensitivity to infertility problems. Do you think Beyoncé is callous to those? She has had them. She adores children, but she has struggled to conceive, and had miscarriages, and her twins were premature and spent time in the NICU. For some perspective on that, I would like to defer to Sydette:

Issues of environment and access creating obstacles to Black fertility and maternity is important, but I want to go backward.

Let's remember that it isn't that long ago that Black maternity included many children who were the results of slaves being raped by their masters. It included children being sold away. It included being expected to raise the white children of the owners.

Let's remember that emancipation didn't end the threat of rape or the need of many women to keep raising white children just to be able to support their own.

Let's not forget that once Black children were no longer property they were such a threat that sterilization without explanation or consent was common. Fannie Lou Hamer was just one woman who was subject to a "Mississippi appendectomy".

Let's not forget how often Black children are perceived as already adult and menacing when they are still so young, at risk to their lives. Let's not forget that despite how scary Black men are perceived to be, racists still love calling them "Boy". Beyoncé's son will be addressed as "Sir" for all of his life. Give her credit for some thought to her choices.

And let's not forget how often Black joy is policed, with a new tenant of Harlem calling the cops about the ice cream truck, or a book club being kicked off of a wine train for laughing, or a mother being criticized for being happy about her twins.

If you felt distaste for the pictures, I know you can come up with many reasons why that is not racist, but simply because of some other reason. Interrogate that. Look at the patterns. There is a lot of conditioning that is built in to our reactions. Sometimes it is built on ugliness, and the only way we can become something better is by questioning, and challenging, and not accepting the status quo.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Do you like yourself?

This is going to be another one of those blogging weeks where organization is difficult due to interrelated points. I will try and be coherent.

I'm going to start with my Facebook status today: Do you like yourself?

I do. I was thinking about it because of a conversation with someone else whom I suspect doesn't. I think you should. I do.

Picking up last week's thread, I have found that I am basically the person I want to be. That is good. When it was less true, at least one of the problems was that I could not see myself accurately, and there were things I didn't know about myself.

One factor was that we are not good at talking about bodies. Maybe we are better now, but having those conversations where you could feel good about the areas where you were fit and work on the areas that needed improvement - it just wasn't happening.

I mention that mainly because in other areas where we worry about polite conversation, the primary result seems to be reinforcing a harmful status quo.

For example, it's not polite to talk about money. That leads to not knowing when the pay of you and your coworkers is based more on gender and race than on contribution and competence. It makes it easier for people to cheat you. It makes it easier for people to create false impressions, and it makes it easier for people to brazenly spend ridiculous amounts of money in ways they should be ashamed of.

When it's awkward to talk about sex? Sure, one result is sex that is less enjoyable than it could be (perhaps without people even realizing that it could be better), but it also leads to issues where consent is poorly understood, and where diseases get spread, and unintended consequences happen.

Also, if someone is being rude - especially in a passive-aggressive matter - where it feels like anything you do to stand up for yourself would be even more rude, that's just not any fun at all.

So it is important that we talk about things, and that we care more about substance than surface. It is important that we learn vocabulary for talking about things, allowing us to understand others and to give form to our own thoughts. We need to be able to analyze and comprehend when things aren't working and work out ways of addressing that.

The other contributing factor, though, is that girls aren't supposed to know anything good about themselves anyway.

I am smart. It became clear early on academically, other people notice, I know it, and it still feels wrong to say it. If I can't admit to the most obvious good thing about me without feeling awkward, what positive traits am I allowed to own?

If you say something bad about your looks, a lot of people will contradict you. That's nice, though it can backfire. For example, if I complain that I'm fat and someone answers "You're not fat; you're pretty!" that merely reinforces the utter incompatibility of "fat" and "pretty", and I am fat. Again, that one is really obvious.

This may circle back to the first problem, that we are not good at talking about things. Maybe it is better to be able to admit that someone's nose isn't great, but also that it doesn't make them hideous and it is the least important thing about them. There are minefields in that direction, but there might be something really good on the other side too.

Regardless, it should be okay to be able to know good things about ourselves. I know I am smart. I also believe it is a gift from God. That would make it very inappropriate to hold it over other people, when in fact I should be using it to serve people. I also know that there are areas that I don't know a lot about, there is training I haven't had, and I am fallible. There can be balance in knowing your strengths.

It should be possible for pretty girls to know they are pretty, or to be glad they have manageable hair or to like their eyes without feeling better than everyone else. It's so common that they aren't even allowed to know they are pretty, and that is worse for girls.

I am going to spend more time on that, but I will go in a slightly different direction tomorrow. In the mean time, here is an old blog post and one recent article:

Friday, July 21, 2017

Band Review: The Further

Keeping with this week's theme of reviewing bands where a member followed me, one member of The Further is guitarist Barrington Mole.

Barrington is in three bands, which means that even though I reviewed Whitemoor back in August (and while I certainly can't rule out a future review of Ejectorseat), today is all about The Further, a Derbyshire-based indie rock band.

Songs have a quality of creeping desperation, but that doesn't stop them from being poignant and beautiful.

Despite the band's description of their sound as "Three friends making a forlorn racket", "Ordinary" is energetic, even if its rhyme scheme pulls in "obituary" and "cemetery". "Cling 2 Me" pulls in some good funk. That being said, "The Other Side of the Valley" and "Suffocate Yourself" are pretty forlorn.

That is not a problem. Life can get dreary, and music is sometimes the best way of facing that.

Worth checking out.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Band Reviews: The Hotel Robbery, 57 Down, and A New Nowhere

When I have bands without very much music I worry about being able to provide a worthwhile review. Sometimes I just go for it anyway, but today I have three where I was followed by a member of a band without very many songs, and I decided to combine them.

The Hotel Robbery (Lucas Ludwig)

I can only find one song by Lucas, "Drive", released in January around the same time he followed me.

"Drive" is pretty good. It has interesting synth accents and shifts in the delivery that gives complexity to the emotional effect, which is full of frustration and longing. There is a break near the end of the song, where you think it's over. It picking back up works, and makes the song more than it was.

It would probably be easier for The Hotel Robbery to find their niche if "Drive" were a straight dance tune. Also, maintaining momentum is going to require more activity, with new releases or videos or something. There is still potential here, and it merits attention.

57 Down (Billy Bass)

57 Down has two tracks available: "A Fool And His Corpse" and "Need It Kind Of Real". The band takes an interesting approach by having two bass guitars and no 6-strings.

Melody is generally carried more by vocals than guitar anyway, so that is not what you notice. Instead the double bass leads to a stripped down, raw feel. It may make the music more in your face, or that could just be them.

The group self-describes as stoner rock. I don't feel like their music would be greatly improved by the use of substances (I'd say that's more of a house/ambient thing), so I may be missing a reference. Tracks are fun and energetic, especially "Need It Kind Of Real".

A New Nowhere (Kev)

A New Nowhere is a rock band from Newcastle-on-Tyne.

Lightening moody chords with harmonic vocals, they should be easily enjoyed by fans of the Seattle grunge sound, perhaps even more for feeling a little lighter.

That's not that there is no darkness in the music, but it is dealt with in a way that doesn't bring the listener down. Sometimes that's due to the beauty, but it can be humor too; their video for "You And I" verges on the absurd.

Spotify only has three tracks, but you can find a few additional via the Youtube Channel. I recommend checking these out as well, especially "Scream".

I don't want to take anything away from A New Nowhere by harping on the grunge similarities, but I know there are huge fans of Nirvana and Pearl Jam out there who will groove to this band, and those connections should be made.

It's always good to find a new band.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017


As I was writing about my body as something that performs (rather than appears), I couldn't help but think about a lot of the things that I used to be able to do and can't really do now. I have written about this before somewhat, but I want to spend a little more time on it.

My grade school had an after-school sports program. We did things like basketball and soccer, but also dodgeball and playing with a giant parachute. Often they were things that we did in PE, but instead of your class, there were different grades represented and it was voluntary. I loved it. I had to be really sick to miss it. For a while I was also the only girl playing basketball at recess. I didn't think of myself as someone who loved sports, but the evidence was there.

I never tried out for school sports teams. There were concerns about time and money, but I was also sure that I could never be on a team that had tryouts. I did do church sports teams: volleyball, basketball, and softball.

I did not consider myself to be particularly good at any of them. If I could successfully serve the ball over the net when it was my turn in the rotation, that was good enough. Mainly, I was just used to thinking of myself as clumsy and not athletic.

The problem with that (like with so much of my self-perception growing up) is that it was not accurate.

No, I was not great at any of it, but I did sometimes make shots, or return a volley. Beyond that, there is some achievement in playing a game of full-court basketball, running up and down the court over and over again (especially if no one is great at shooting or rebounding).

One of the stories in Beauty Sick  was about a woman who as a child was both fat and athletic. She would do great at various sports, but would still always be picked last when the time came to pick teams again.

I remember being picked last, but I can't remember if I was actually the worst athlete. I assumed I was; I was fat and obviously everyone else seemed to think so, but now I question it. Yes, I could not do the flexed arm hang or climb the rope, and I was horrible at lap running, but I was above average in all of the other Presidential Fitness tests.

I have said before that there was a sense of the inevitable; you either were a good athlete or you weren't. Also, if you were a good athlete you looked like it. That is so wrong, and so unhelpful.

They might have told us that practice would help, though I don't really remember that. Practice isn't enough if you are doing it wrong, and no one ever talked about form. I have to wonder how much of that is that they didn't know anything.

This matters, and not just because all bodies are different, with capabilities that cannot be determined merely by the shape of the body. If you are teaching elementary and junior high kids, their bodies are changing all the time. I have heard of breast development throwing off girls with pitching and things like that, but there are women who have breasts and play sports. It must be possible to adjust. Shouldn't there be tips available?

I feel this loss, because when my mental picture was always that I was fat and clumsy, I didn't appreciate that I would go for a 5-mile bike ride for fun, or that I went roller skating every week. The roller skating couldn't have meant I was athletic because I never skated backwards or shot the duck - all I did was skate around for a couple of hours without falling.

I was a better dancer once too, but I never gave myself any credit for that. Someone even told me that this thing I did with my shoulder during one tango was just the epitome of grace. I had no idea what she meant.

These are frustrating things, because I don't know that I can get them back. It's not just being older - Skateworld is gone, and I no longer own a bike, and also my time is not really my own right now.

Despite that, part of appreciating my body now - and holding onto that strength and fitness that I do have - is recognition. It is necessary to see when I am doing something well or ably, or at least for a sustained period of exertion where I am sweaty and tired but still moving. It is important to acknowledge what is right with my body.

There are reasons that is harder than it should be, and that's where I intend to pick up Monday.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Less encouraging

The question on "What kind of person do you want to be?" was the first one I did, and it was the best experience.

That left the beauty audit (which I also wrote about yesterday), the self-compassionate letter to my body, writing about thinking about my body as something that performs rather than appears, but also that other question paired with the first...

"How do you want the world to be different when you leave it?"

That was discouraging because I don't think I can make that much difference. I would like to restore the environment so that global warming is no longer a danger and that this time period does not become the fifth mass extinction. I would like to eliminate racism and poverty. I do not believe I can do these things.

One of the points I wrote about yesterday that did make me feel good is that I do help people now. I know I have an impact on individuals through kindness. I am also aware that my blogging is helpful to some people in terms of helping them figure out ways to say what they want to say, whether that means talking about their feelings and motivations or politics. Without debating the size of the impact, those people will die too. To have an impact that goes beyond the length of our lives seems very unrealistic.

On one level I was prepared for that obstacle. I am constantly aware of how much humans mess up, but also I have a faith that God will heal it, on a schedule that I don't know. Because my religious beliefs include a belief in the great worth of a soul (and each soul), then I do believe that helping an individual matters, for their sakes. Thinking about making the world a better place, though, on a global scale, there I have some doubts.

Still, I take questions seriously, almost compulsively so. I had to think about this one. I found three areas of focus.

One of them is more religious, in that I want the family history and temple work for my family caught up before I die. That shouldn't change the world much, as it focuses on those who are already gone. I still believe it's important. Also, it's practical for me to be the one who completes it, because no one in my family is reproducing.

The other two things come from my "47 uses for a billion dollars" thing. I still haven't come up with a full 47, but someday I am going to focus on that and do some pertinent blogging.

Without having completed that yet, there are still two areas that are especially important to me: permaculture and diverse books and movies.

These are topics that speak to my heart and excite my brain, but they are also very reasonable ways of improving this world. Diverse books and movies are important for creating empathy between different people and building acceptance. That would be reason enough, but a beautiful side effect is that working on it encourages individual creativity and self-expression. That is something that makes a better world. If the only thing I can do now is appreciate and recommend diverse works so maybe a few other people check them out to, I will do it. That might not be enough to end racism on its own, but I do believe it's a step in the right direction.

Spreading permaculture would be so good for the environment. You can create carbon sinks and support pollinators, purify water, provide local food, and make a better world. There are so many good applications. Right now, I am just learning about it and not even implementing it on my own land yet, but I hope to create something beautiful here, and inspire other people to try.

Is that encouraging? Not completely. It is realistic. Also, (crucially) this is being true to myself.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Surprisingly good

I finished my assignments from Beauty Sick  this weekend. They ended up being pretty affirming.

That was not a surprise so much in itself - they are designed to get you looking inside, and a lot of the pressure that is harmful to women comes from focusing on the outside. However, because I have spent so much time doing that already, I didn't expect anything huge - been there, done that, you know? Perhaps I should have guessed that if it felt like it would be valuable to do them it might indicate there was something unexpected there.

The first question I did was "What kind of person do you want to be?" I knew immediately that I want to be a person that helps, and I want to be strong.

Last Monday I wrote about feeling weak. I have been strong in the past, but I don't feel that way now. That feels like it has a negative impact on the amount of help I can give. I am barely holding myself together currently. At the same time, that meant that I basically wanted to be me, just with better resources. That could be worse.

Then I remembered that recently I'd had two friends call me needing someone to listen. One literally called while I was talking to the other, so I had to call her back. I still helped both of them, solely by listening.

Recently on Twitter someone (I thought it was Sydette, but I can't find it) was posting about how that can be enough - not solving problems for someone else, but merely holding their problems in your hands while they catch their breath. I can still do that.

I have been pretty open about this not being the greatest time in my life. Even so, there are accomplishments. I can also acknowledge that a lot of what is draining me now is that I am helping others. Maybe tired isn't exactly the same as weak.

It was something to realize at a time that is so stressful and discouraging - when there are so many areas when I feel inadequate - that I am whom I would choose to be. Yes, I'd like to have more money, but if I had been the kind of person that was accumulating it, maybe I wouldn't be me anymore. I still don't know how all of this is going to come out.

The beauty audit was helpful in a way that I didn't expect as well. I know there are areas where minor changes could be helpful, improving my general level of attractiveness. It appears that I don't care.

I am looking at some ways to make addressing the most pressing issues more convenient, like keeping cuticle cream in my purse. Still, that is because my cuticles are bugging me right now, not because anyone pays any attention to my cuticles.

I had thought that doing beauty things for me could be validating as a form of self-care, but they still can't be nearly as interesting to me as things that would result in better rest or better nutrition or relaxation. That works too. Better health and happiness can deliver a beauty boost, but it's for me, and not for anyone else.

It is not my job to be attractive. What I do need is what I am already working on.

I may not be quite the wreck that I always feel myself to be.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Band Review: Aree and the Pure Heart

I swear Aree and the Pure Heart followed me on Twitter back in early February - that's how they ended up on the review list - but I cannot find a Twitter account for them now. I know tweeting's not for everyone, but I have to be glad they at least tried it, because I really liked the band.

Based in Atlanta, the band identifies as rock and roll/punk. Despite the location, I don't hear Southern rock influences. Rather, there is a musical joy that reminds me of Bob Seger.

That is only in instruments and mood; Aree's voice is completely different. There may be some reminders of Marshal Crenshaw and Fee Waybill there, but I could reasonably just say that vocally Aree is unique. Regardless, his voice fits in perfectly with all that PJ is doing on guitar, and Chris on bass, and Dave on drums. (The band does not appear to be into last names.)

Together they create a sense of celebration. Their Heartsongs EP is more than fun; it's uplifting.

Really recommended. I'm glad I had a chance to check them out.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Band Review: Dreamer & Son

Dreamer & Son is a Boston-based band that describes themselves as nostalgic dream-rock.

While I am not sure I recognize any elements of nostalgia, I cannot deny a dream-like quality to their music. This is especially true on "Cheat", their single released in February. Using hints of echoes and a soft touch on the instrumentation, the overall mood can well be described as dreamy. The intro to "Tension" approaches it differently, but still has similar results. There are lovely musical accents on "Sweep".

I do find Dreamer & Son difficult to categorize, so perhaps new vocabulary is a reasonable response. In any event, I enjoyed listening. They make a good contribution.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Assignments again

As I work on this list of things I need to do, I never really thought that there would never be any other steps. Often my big step is reading more, but sometimes as the knowledge accumulates, a task of some kind takes form.

This was somewhat easier with one of the more recent books.

Beauty Sick: How the Cultural Obsession with Appearance Hurts Girls and Women by Renee Engeln, Harper Collins 2017.

The currency of it is really refreshing; I don't read books in their publication year that often. Even though a lot of the concepts aren't completely unfamiliar, some of the examples are really recent and fresh in memory, which is kind of cool.

Engeln is aware of the general familiarity, and it influenced the book in her desire to not simply do more hand-wringing. There is information on techniques that are working better, from something as simple as aerobics instructors focusing on strength and function instead of appearance when they are leading their classes.

There are also some interesting ideas from research by Eric Stice at the Oregon Research Institute on intervening with cognitive dissonance. In an attempt to help someone else struggling with body image, participants explain the dangers and costs and impossibility of trying to meet these ideals. That makes it harder for the participants to fall into that same thinking, because of the sense of hypocrisy.

I believe that looking out for others can do a lot to help us see ourselves more accurately, but I also know it is completely possible to somehow retain the thought that everyone is worthy of love and understanding except you. Those ideas are interesting, but not something I am working with now.

I am going to write a self-compassionate letter to my body. You can learn more about this at

I will also be going through two questions: "What kind of person do you want to be?" and "How do you want this world to be different when you leave it?"

I will also be taking a beauty inventory. That means going over the time and money that I spend on beauty. Often this is a situation where someone might decide that certain practices are not worth the cost. I may decide to do a little more, just based on not doing much already.

For some of the other suggestions, I am not sure how to apply them.

·         Be gentle with yourself - I can try and remember that more. There are certainly times when I am worse than others, but I don't have a concrete idea in mind for how to achieve it. Sometimes the more abstract concepts get applied as I work on other things, so that is not a worry yet.
·         Move toward thinking about your body as something that does instead of something that appears - There could be another journal session here. Actually, even just after reading I remember correcting some things my sisters were saying, because we do have some good physical abilities, regardless of size. That goes along with...
·         Watch your words - I have already gotten a lot better at this.
·         Mind your media - I feel like I do pretty well here. I know that a lot of it is subliminal, but I do limit my media intake and I have a lot of awareness because of what I have read.
·         Vote with your wallet - An empty wallet could seem like an obstacle here, but I am generally low consumption and unaware of advertising, making me the worst person to speak via boycott. That may be an area for change, but it doesn't feel like a priority at this time.

Anyway, those are some of the things that I am working on.

There is also a vague feeling that someday a crucial step will be trying dating again, and I hope if that does arrive I can feel something more enthusiastic than "Oh, barf."

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Emo update

Yesterday was so heavy that I need to not be heavy today, so I thought I would catch up on my Emo listening, where I listen to all of the bands and songs mentioned in Andy Greenwald's Nothing Feels Good: Punk Rock, Teenagers, and Emo.

For my first-time through listening, I am on Chapter 13. For finishing the entire book, there are 39 bands left, including Judas Priest who is playing right now. No, they are not emo, but I always used to think "Highway to Hell" was them; it's AC/DC. I have heard their song "You've Got Another Thing Coming", but I never thought much about whom it was by. I am learning non-emo things too.

Once I have finished those, I will go through the twelve bands listed in an Alternative Press article, as well as listening to Ash and The Saddest Landscape. They have come up with some of the other bands, and I'm not sure how relevant they are, but I like to be thorough.

At some point I will also be listening to a bunch of bands who at one point were very important to my various teen friends. Some of them don't seem that important anymore, and I don't know if that's because they have broken up, or their fans aged out of freaking out over bands, or if some of the fans have aged out of Twitter. It's probably a combination. It was just that I noticed a level of passion that seemed similar to how the fans of the emo bands felt.

The other thing is that I have been keeping a tally of the bands that I think I like, and I will listen to them again to see if I want to do a full review. That list is currently 22 bands long (mostly emo, but also Nelly and The Hives), so that would almost double my recommended list.

On the other side, for posting daily songs from what I have already listened to, I am working on Chapters 9 and 10. I think it will go through to almost the end of summer, and then I will probably have about two months' worth of songs from reviewed bands.

Chapter 8 took the longest to get through, both on the original listen and for doing daily songs. That is because it was in Chapter 8 that Greenwald briefly mentions Deep Elm's series The Emo Diaries and Drive-Thru's Welcome to the Family samplers. I doubt Greenwald has listened to them all, but I have.

In general I found Deep Elm's offerings more interesting. There was definitely more variety. Drive-Thru repeated bands a lot, whereas it appears that Deep Elm didn't need to. That being said, Drive-Thru had Finch, New Found Glory, Allister, Something Corporate, and The Starting Line, which is not a bad roster.

Still, Emo Diaries 10: The Hope I Hide Inside was pretty good. I listened to it again. That being said, it was sandwiched between the two worst ones, following Sad Songs Remind Me and followed by Taking Back What's Ours. It's weird that a genre based so much on emotional openness over musical skill could produce such uneven results.

The worst obstacle was knowing I would need to delve into Dashboard Confessional and just dreading it. Early mentions would involve some listening, but then Chapter 12 is such a love song to Chris Carrabba that it was going to take more. I finally decided to methodically go through each album from Further Seems Forever (Carrabba's other band) and Dashboard Confessional chronologically, doing one a day. I survived, but I did start wondering if he ever got into some kind of therapy. He's touring again, so it would be interesting if he could do that without being so anguished.

The most annoying thing is that delving deeper I am more aware when Greenwald misses something, and some of this is really interesting. I wish there was a better book.

Maybe I will write it.

Monday, July 10, 2017


I have gone through rough periods in my life before where I was stripped of things I had taken for granted.

Once upon a time I had always been able to earn decent money. I was never rich, but I could do things I liked, and it allowed me to help other people. Then I lost my job, and had a really hard time finding a new one. Even once I did, I never really regained my old footing. Things have never been financially comfortable since. A lot of reexamination went along with that.

Some time before that, I fell into a deep well of pain. I had been carrying it around with me, and I thought I was successfully holding it at bay, until I wasn't anymore. That cheerful disposition that had been the core of my personality was gone for a long time. What came back was worth having, but the struggle in between was really hard.

It appears to be time for another round of loss.

When I first got back from Italy - especially after the trip home - I was really tired, and having a hard time shaking it off. I attributed that to the extra strain of looking out for Mom under unusual circumstances, without any real breaks. I figured it would just take some time to catch up.

I can go for longer than three hours now, but "normal" does not seem to be in sight. And normal for me always meant strong.

It was one of the consolations for being fat, that at least that solidity came with some toughness. People have called me a rock. I have thought of myself as a workhorse. Maybe those aren't the qualities that make you the heroine in a romantic comedy, but they were practical assets and they would come in really handy in times like these.

I am always so tired and low now.

There is an emotional toll to being a caretaker that I haven't been giving enough credit. I mean, I've heard that it's hard, and known that it's hard, but I am only starting to realize how much it is draining me, and how much I am not overcoming it.

There are so many things that I should be doing to try and bring in some money, because I am out. There are also so many things I should be doing to provide enrichment for my mother and make sure she has good quality of life. There is all of this fear and this grief and they drain, but then there comes the sense of guilt and lack of accomplishment too.

As I recognize it, I am trying to honor it. Okay, I am only getting about a fifth of the things that I think I should do done; can I give myself credit for that? Maybe, but the mortgage payment is still due in five days and I don't have it.

That may be going about it the wrong way; in my previous examples I don't think I really learned anything from the experiences until it was all hindsight. Perhaps I should just struggle and keep beating up on myself now, as if I had never learned anything from struggling before, but it would take so much effort.

So it's just limbo - an uncomfortable, miserable limbo - but something has to happen sooner or later, and even terrible changes could remove some burdens, maybe. It's a rough spot to be in.

And the only smile in all of it is a sardonic one at how unfair it is that I should be feeling so delicate without at least having turned slender and pretty.